Mr Chan Chun Sing took over from Mr Lim Swee Say as secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) yesterday. Singapore's new labour chief shared his goals and challenges with reporters last week.
WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES AS LABOUR CHIEF AND WHERE IS NTUC HEADING?
The broad direction won't change from Mr Lim Swee Say's time.
In the labour movement, regardless of which era, the evergreen question is: How can we make sure our workers have good jobs and good salaries to take care of themselves and their families?
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES AHEAD?
Retaining and attracting investment
(One of the main challenges is to make) the environment for job creation in Singapore...more positive, (and to maintain) a competitive advantage (over) other countries.
Other countries are competing with more abundant manpower, cheaper manpower, cheaper production cost and so on. They are catching up in these areas.
We must have a conducive environment to attract investment and... (we) cannot compete based on prices and quantity.
(We need to find) the areas to go into to upskill and upgrade our workers so that they don't compete on price but on quality, creativity and trust.
Grooming new generation of tripartite leaders
One of the (reasons investors are) prepared to invest in Singapore and create jobs here is simply because our overall business environment, overall labour management relationship is unique.
It gives them stability and the chance to build up their business over the long term. This is one of our unique competitive advantages. One of our top challenges is (to) build on these and keep this (tripartite) relationship unique and special, so that it's one of our competitive advantages.
We have had this unique relationship for many years because this has been forged over many years and many challenges, crises and so forth. But we cannot rest on our laurels.
We need to groom a new generation of tripartite partners starting from young to make sure that in five, 10, 15 years time, we have the same, if not stronger, tripartite relationship.